I'll be honest - there are times in my life when I feel like I'm losing. I don't just feel like I'm losing; I know that I am. But I'm also one of those persons who believes that a win is just around the corner. I'm one of those persons that keeps showing up even in the midst of defeat because I believe that God can turn things around in a single breath if He wants to...and I believe that He wants to.
It makes me seem more than a little naive to a watching world, and even sometimes to others in the church, but there is ample biblical evidence to support such a position.
God simply doesn't always give a victory right away, even when He's planning to give one eventually.
Take, for example, that time when God told Israel to go to war against itself. (Judges 20) The tribe of Benjamin has committed a great sin, a tremendous sin, and brought shame upon all of the brothers of Israel. What they've done is unforgiveable; it seems impossible that they could ever be restored to the fellowship of the sons of Israel. The other tribes ask God - what are we supposed to do about this? We can't just let this go.
And God says, of course you can't just let this go. You should go and attack Benjamin and bring justice upon them.
So they go, and they are soundly defeated. Just soundly defeated. Totally routed. Totally destroyed.
So they go back, and they weep before God, and God tells them it's okay, go back and do it again.
So they go back, and they attack again, and they are defeated. Again.
At this point, they're like - what's up, God? You told us to go. We went. We lost. What are we supposed to do now?
Go again, God says. And this time, I will give you victory.
So they go one more time, and they get the victory that God promised them in the first place.
Unlike back with the story of Achan, we don't see some big, obvious sin that is keeping God's people from the victory He's promised them. They just...don't win the first couple of times. We could speculate about why, but the Scriptures don't tell us, so anything we come up with would just be conjecture. It might make sense; it might not. But all we have is the truth that for whatever reason, they didn't go out and win right away.
But then...we don't always win right away, either. Do we? We can choose to do good things, God's things, holy things that we know God would want us to do, and we can believe that God wants us to do them. We can know He wants us to do them. But that doesn't mean we win right away. If you need proof of this, ask any former addict how many times it took them to finally get clean. Just because the victory is coming doesn't mean it's easy.
It just means it is coming.
Because if God has said it, it's going to happen. The only thing we can really do, then, is to just keep showing up and trusting in that promise. Maybe we look naive for awhile, but so what? The victory is coming.
Don't you want to be there for it?